Nail Notes--September, 2000

Subject: Nail Notes 9-1-00
Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000 16:09:24 -0500
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

The big news is the newly discovered X8 form the Milwaukee Road!  Here
is some background information:

     In 1906 the Milwaukee Road decided to mark treated ties with lead
tags.  The treatment, as well as the date, were indicated.  This is the
only use of tags to date ties that I know of.  Tags which read "R 07"
and "08" have been found.  The "R" stands for the Rueping process, a
newly-developed method of creosoting.

     In 1908 they decided to switch to date nails, and they used nails
through 1910.  At that time quite a number of railroads were abandoning
the date nail because it provided a poor record.  The nails used by the
Milwaukee Road in these years are:

A8, R8, R08, X8, Z8,
A9, R9, X9, Z9,
X10, Z10

The R, as before, stands for Rueping process, and Z stands for Zinc
chloride treatment of some kind.  The meanings of A and X are unknown.
Details can be found in my book, pp 227-228 of Vol II.  Many of these
nails are very rare---1910 nails, for instance, are extremely hard to
come by.

Until recently, the X8 was unknown.  One surfaced in an otherwise
insignificant lot on eBay.  Go here to see the lot:

George Stever, the seller, wrote me this:

> ...I bought that fairly large lot of nails at an auction near Galesville,
> WI about 5 or 6 years ago. I had carried small bags of them to several large
> flea markets that I do and no one ever showed any sign of interest in them. I
> was really about ready to just dump them in the trash but then I decided to
> try eBay. And everything worked out just fine from there.

And he did well!  The lot sold for $565.77---that's $565.00 for the X8
and $0.77 for the other nails.  So who bought it?  His (or her?) e-mail
address is  I wrote a note yesterday to the
buyer, but I haven't received a response yet.  He or she does not
subscrive to "Nail Notes".

I put the photo of the lot, which clearly shows the X8, on my website,
along with a photo of the shank.  Both pictures were taken by George Stever:

(--1--) (--2--)

A photo of a yard track at Somerville, TX

Robin Warren ( sent me this shot of part of the Santa
Fe's old Somerville treating plant yards.  The plant was built in 1897
by the  Texas Tie & Lumber Preserving Co., and was bought by the Santa
Fe in 1905.  It became the first plant in North America to treat ties
regularly by the Rueping process in January, 1906.  See Vol II, pp
294-295 of my book for more info.

Just look at all those discarded ties!  And recall that the Santa Fe had
an extensive test section at Somerville, extending at least 1922 to
1942, in which those nifty copper tags were used.  See pp 304-305 of my book.

Who out there has too many date nails?

Several times people ask me "Who has a lot of common extra nails to sell
me?"  I give them the e-mail addresses of a few people I know who have
too many nails for their own good.  But I would like to make this list a
little better.  If any of you have a lot of extras you would be willing
to sell to beginniers for a reasonable price, let me know.  I will
either (a) post your address on my web page so collectors can contact
you directly, or (b) give your address out to thos who ask.  Either one
is fine with me.  Let me know!

Who out there collects rail?

Mike Hobbs does (  Mike collects dated rail, and his
oldest pieces are from 1878.  He wants even earlier rail, so write him
if you have any, or if you have a similar interest.  I have a small rail
collection myself, but most of my slices are too thin to carry a date.

The next nail show

I have the details, but no time at the moment to type them in.  It will
be held March 23-24, 2001 in Shelbyville, KY.  Watch my web site for
more info.


Subject: Nail Notes 9-12-00
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 09:51:52 -0500
From: Jeff Oaks <>
Organization: University of Indianapolis

The latest Nailer News is out!  This is the quarterly publication of the Texas Date Nail Collectors Association.  Here are the contents of the Summer 2000 issue:

Pages 1-2:  "Knowing when to hold'em and when to fold'em", by editor Charles Sebesta
2:  "Date Nails in Cuba", by Jeff Oaks
3:  "The winners---in Concordia, Kansas---on July 29, 2000" photos by Susie Cochran
4-5:  "From the editor's desk" by Charles Sebesta
5:  "From Steve Cochran, RE:  Texas and Pacific Date Nails"
6:  "The way it was---in Concordia, Kansas---on July 28, 2000" more photos by Susie Cochran
7:  "A tale of a nail" by Rolland Meyers (i.e. the McCloud River 60)
8-9:  "Spikes, Ties & Rails" by Jeff Oaks.  A review article of the publication of the North American RR Maintenance of Way Association
9:  "New members"
10:  A reply to my Spring 2000 article on the B&M by John Iacovino
11-12:  "Burnettizing on the Union Pacific" by Jeff Oaks
12-15:  "Nail Caches" by Al Nielsen (nice piece)
16-17:  "U.S. Navy Ammunition Depot in Earl, NJ" by Jeff Oaks
18-19:  "Kyanizing on the Eastern RR" by Jeff Oaks
20-21:  Obituaries:  Roy Benjamin Kriegh, John Beck, and Mel Best
22:  1940 Santa Fe diagram "Standard Cross Ties Assignment by Lengths and Classes"
There are ads on pages 17, 23, and 24.

If you want to subscribe to the Nailer News, you will find in the introduction to my book, or on my website:

Jim Sinsley ( recently acquired a bunch of NP nails.  Among them were both 18:a and 18:b (see my book, Vol. III, p. 20 for photos of the two nails).  I knew the NP used the 18:b.  Did they use the 18:a also?

The Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum wrote me regarding an 1866 photo of the UP's Omaha treating plant in operation.  This is the subject of my article "Burnettizing on the Union Pacific" in the Nailer News you saw above.  To see the museum's collection of photos of the Transcontinental Railroad, go to:

For a view of the treating plant, go to:

I can't remember if I wrote this or not, but Rolland Meyers did a great job in establishing that the McCloud River did use a 60.  Previously we knew they used a 58 and 59, so when Rolland got a McCloud River 60 from Don Piercy, he set about to determine its authenticity, even writing to the president of the line!  I am convinced now, despite the satatement to the contrary by Larry Meeker, that the 60 is legit.  It is 2 1/2 x 1/4 rnd R  stl (12), like the 58 and 59.

Also, Larry had dug deeply to find that there is a nail in my Central California Traction list which does not belong:  eliminate the 2 1/2 x 3/16 rnd R  stl (06) 56.

Jim Sinsley took some photos of Spokane International nails in the ties in northern Idaho.  You can find them in the Photo album.

Here are pics of Leon Sorenson's Santa Fe set.  I can't remember offhand who sent me these!  Let me know!  These are also in the Photo album.

As long as I'm passing around pictures, here are some shots taken by David Markunas ( of the stone blocks which were used before the invention of ties in 1832.  They are located along the Camden & Amboy in New Jersey.

(--1--)  (--2--)(--3--)  (--4--)(--5--)  (--6--)(--7--)  (--8--)(--9--)  (--10--)(--11--)  (--12--)(--13--)  (--14--)(--15--)

I only got two responses from my request "Who has lots of extras?"  If you have a need for nails, contact these two:

     John DeLalla (
     David Anderson (

David wrote me this note:

During the years 1997-1999 my wife and I walked more than 120 miles of unused track, in Maine.  This was the old Maine Central, later Guilford, road.  We picked them clean, finding date nails in about 99% of the track.  We also found millions of insect bites, lymes disease, 3 moose, 1 angry bear, one close call with potassium deficiency, probably from too long in the sun, with too many bites, and not enough liquid, and I fell through an old bridge, to the water below, once (which was more than enough).  The dates are from the 30's to the 70's.  We have sold thousands on e-bay, and even more in New Jersey, where we frequently visit, and elsewhere.  We still have many thousands left, and, except for some we are keeping for ourselves, still have many thousands that we would like to sell.



Jeff Oaks, Associate Professor
Deptartment of Mathematics
University of Indianapolis
1400 E. Hanna Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46227

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